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Fixed Rate Mortgage Loans - Understanding The Basics

Written by: Carrie Reeder

Fixed rate mortgages are the most common type of mortgage loan for home buyers. With predictable payments, long term homeowners can plan their budgets and guard against rising interest rates. But a fixed rate mortgage is not for everyone with its higher interest rates and a reduction in your buying power.

Fixed Rate Mortgage Features

A fixed rate mortgage features set rates, long term low monthly payments, and low risk. Interest rates are determined during your loan application process. Rates are set by the market. You can also lower your interest rate by paying points up front. This option only makes sense if you stay in your home for several years.

Long term low monthly payments are another benefit of this type of home loan. Over time, inflation will raise the price of everything except your mortgage payment. As your salary increases, your mortgage costs will also take a smaller percent of your income.

The low risk of fixed interest rates also appeals to borrowers. You don't have to worry about rising interest rates or a balloon payment. You can also repay your loan early, saving money on interest payments.

Mortgage Terms

Traditionally, fixed rate mortgages were 30 or 15 year terms. Now lenders offer a couple of additional options. 30 year loans are still the most popular with their low monthly payments. A 30 year loan also enables you to qualify for more than shorter loans.

15, 20, and 40 year mortgages are also options. 15 and 20 year loans qualify for lower interest rates, but you will have higher monthly payments between 10% and 15% compared to a 30 year mortgage. Shorter loans also save you interest costs, appealing to those who want their loan paid off before retirement or their children go to college. 40 year mortgages are less common, but offer low monthly payments with higher interest costs.

Biweekly mortgage, as the name implies, requires half your mortgage payment every other week. At the end of the year, you have made an extra mortgage payment. You can have your mortgage repaid in 18 to 19 years. Most lenders also allow you to roll over to a 30 year term with no penalties.

Fixed Rate Drawbacks

Even with their benefits, fixed rate mortgages aren't for everyone. Alternative mortgages enable you to borrow more than with a fixed rate mortgage. If you move in less than 7 years, you will also probably pay more in interest payments than if you went with an adjustable rate mortgage. Most homeowners move within the fist 7 years of living in a house. You are also locked into an interest rate that could drop in the future.

About the author:

See my recommended Home Mortgage Lenders online. Carrie Reeder is the owner of ABC Loan Guide, which offers help finding the best home mortgage loans.


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